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Stock indexes following Europe lower

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Stocks are poised to open in the red today as European markets head lower.

S&P 500 futures are down by about 0.2 percent and have been weakening in the last hour. France and Germany are both falling by more than half a percent. Most Asian indexes rose overnight after American equities rallied yesterday.

The S&P 500 has been parked at the key 1500 level for more than a week, consolidating after an 8 percent move that started on Dec. 31. Investors are now debating whether to chase stocks at current levels or to wait for a pullback.  

There are few important scheduled events today to serve as catalysts. Tomorrow's calendar includes monthly same-store sales, jobless claims, and European interest-rate news.

Volatility has been increasing recently, with the S&P 500 moving at least 15 points in the last three sessions. Moves of that magnitude hadn't occurred since Jan. 1. The index may also be forming a double top around 1514, which could make some chart watchers think that resistance is taking shape.

Commodities and currencies are mostly bearish as well. The euro, Australian dollar, and Canadian dollar are down. The Japanese yen, which tends to move in the opposite direction as stocks, is also trying to climb.

Oil and copper are down by almost 1 percent, while most agricultural foodstuffs are lower. Gold is little-changed.

In company-specific news, Walt Disney is higher by about 3 percent following a strong earnings report yesterday afternoon. Photo-sharing service Shutterfly is also set to open higher after surprisingly strong results at its enterprise business helped it beat expectations.

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